British tourists warned to 'stay indoors' as heatwave bakes Europe amid fears continent could see hottest day yet

18 July 2023, 13:11 | Updated: 18 July 2023, 13:13

Brits have been warned to stay indoors
Brits have been warned to stay indoors. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

British tourists have been warned to stay indoors as the severe heatwave continues to bake southern Europe.

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Greece, Spain and Switzerland are all battling wildfires amid fears from the UN's weather agency that the continent could break its record temperature.

The Red Cross in Italy called elderly people to ensure they are OK, while officials in Portugal warned people to ensure their children and pets are not kept in parked cars.

Volunteers have been handing out water in Greece and Spanish authorities issued a reminder about taking measures to avoid breathing in smoke from blazes triggered by the heatwave.

Panu Saaristo, emergency health unit team leader for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said: "Heatwaves are really an invisible killer.

Wildfires force thousands to flee seaside resorts outside Greek capital

"We are experiencing hotter and hotter temperatures for longer stretches of time every single summer here in Europe."

There were questions over whether tourists would begin rethinking their plans due to scorching temperatures.

Some Brits had begun cancelling their holidays in Europe as the Charon heatwave sweeps the continent, while tourist hotspots have had to flee fires.

Kalamaki in Greece is burning
Kalamaki in Greece is burning. Picture: Alamy

Tourists have collapsed and fainted in Italy, where 23 cities are to be given extreme temperature warnings, and Greece, while La Palma in the Canary Islands has seen fires breakout.

About 1,200 children were evacuated from a summer camp near Athens as Greece battles two raging wildfires.

Three have been recorded around the capital, prompting thousands to be evacuated from the coast south of the city.

Read more: Holidaymakers evacuated from scorching resorts in Europe as 'hottest day' approaches - and it could last until August

One has been put out but fires burn to the north and west. Tourist hotspots like the Acropolis have been closed in the afternoon to help workers.

Spain, which has already experienced a drought, has temperatures forecast up to 43C in Mallorca, a popular destination for Brits.

In Switzerland, a wildfire broke out in the Wallis region in the southwest, forcing the evacuation of four villages.

Tourists cool down in Rome under baking temperatures
Tourists cool down in Rome under baking temperatures. Picture: Alamy

Temperatures are expected to hit 46C today in Europe. That is not far from the continent's record of 48.8C recorded in Sicily two years ago.

The mercury reached highs of 44.8C in Spain on Monday.

And scientists believe 2023 could go down as the hottest year on record as climate change continues to amplify weather problems.

Read more: Brits cancel holidays as Europe bakes in scorching heatwave and tourists are evacuated due to wildfires

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) attributes the heat to unprecedented sea surface temperatures and low Arctic sea-ice levels.

John Nairn, senior extreme heat adviser for the WMO, said there has been a sixfold increase in heatwaves since the 1980s and added: "These are not your normal weather systems of the past. They have arrived as a consequence of climate change.

The Spanish authorities are fighting a fire on La Palma
The Spanish authorities are fighting a fire on La Palma. Picture: Alamy

"It is global warming and it's going to continue for some time."

The temperatures show no signs of decreasing much, with the WMO saying on Monday: "The heat is forecast to intensify by the middle of the week (19 July) in parts of the Mediterranean, including Greece and Turkey.

"A further continuation into August is likely."

The US and China have also been struck by soaring temperatures. The latter recorded 52.2C in its arid north west region on Sunday.

In the US, Death Valley - which has held the record for the hottest place on earth - pushed to 49C at midnight, a record for that time.

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